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  • Kawsar Koodaruth

Gender Roles and Mental Wellness

Many societies assign sharply distinguished roles to men and women. Within cultures, people develop a shared gender belief system that includes the content of gender stereotypes, masculinity and femininity, and attitudes toward people who deviate from traditional gender roles





The gender belief system is “a set of beliefs and opinions about males and females and about the purported qualities of masculinity and femininity” (Deaux & Kite, 1987, p. 97).







Early Years

• Girls should play with dolls and boys should play with trucks.

• Boys should be directed to like blue and green; girls toward red and pink

• Boys should not wear dresses or other clothes typically associated with “girl's clothes”


As children learn about gender-specific attributes, they form gender schemas. Children learn whatever gender schemas are available in their culture, including the divisions that exist between the two sexes. These cognitive structures enable people to apply the subset of schemas that match their own sex to themselves, which influences their self-concept. In addition, their sense of adequacy may be based on their ability to live up to the appropriate gender schemas.



Gender schemas and the gender stereotypes incorporated into them enable people to understand the social difficulties they may encounter if they fail to conform to their culture’s gender norms. For example, a man who cries at a wedding may be mocked for being less masculine, while a woman who does the same is thought to be exhibiting gender-appropriate behaviour.


Meanwhile, a woman who speaks forcefully during a company meeting may be seen as bossy or too emotional by her employees, but a man who does the same is considered authoritative and in control.



During Youth


• Girls are better at reading and boys are better at math

• Girls should be well behaved; boys are expected to act out


• Boys should engage in sports and refrain from more creative pursuits;

• Boys and men are expected to use voice and physique to prove their manliness



• Girls should be thin and beautiful to make them appealing to men;

Harmful stereotypes about sexuality and body image cause mental health problems like depression and anxiety in women more than men. The gender pay gap and Inequality at work also put women at higher risk of physical and mental illness.


A study published by the American Psychological Association found that women are more likely than men to experience anxiety and depression. Men are more likely to be diagnosed with substance use and antisocial disorders. It also found that women are more likely to internalise emotions, which typically results in withdrawal, loneliness and depression, while men are more likely to externalise emotions, leading to aggressive, impulsive, coercive and noncompliant behaviour.







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